Cellular telephones have become an integral part of the lives of almost all Americans. These devices are, today, largely taken for granted. But it wasn’t all that long ago that cellular phones were not nearly the widespread staple of American life that they are today. The main change that allowed for the almost complete adoption of cellular communications as the main way in which Americans talk to each other was the precipitous drop in both price and size of cell phones.
The first cellular phones started appearing in the mid-1980s. Although there were systems of mobile telephony that preceded cellular technology, those systems were more closely related to radio communications, much like the technology that has long been used for seagoing vessels to communicate, via a radio-telephone interface, with subscribers to land-based phones.
The introduction of true cellular technology was something completely new. Suddenly, one could drive from the East Coast of the United States all the way to the West Coast and rarely be out of touch with work. But the first cellular phone systems were both incredibly bulky and extremely expensive. The main users of the new phones, which cost up to $5,000 to buy and half that, per month, to operate, were high-end salespeople and business executives who needed to stay in constant touch with employees and clients.
These devices were so large that they were usually installed in cars. Throughout the 1980s, the car phone quickly became a major status symbol, as anyone capable of affording one was wealthy and extremely successful, almost by definition.
But it didn’t take too long after the introduction of the first cell phones for their price to begin to plummet. Throughout the 1990s, cell phones became miniaturized, going from monstrous hulks taking up half of a Lincoln’s trunk space to being handheld devices that could easily fit in a coat pocket. At the same time, the cost of both new devices and cellular service began to sharply decline.
While these developments were great for the economy as a whole, they spelled trouble for the nation’s prison system. By the end of the 1990s, cheap, small and reliable cell phones were flooding the nation’s prison system. These devices were used by powerful gangs to effectively communicate with their members on the outside. Cell phones were used to carry out major criminal conspiracies, intimidate witnesses and even order hits on prison staff. The problem spread, and by 2015, the problem of contraband cell phones was epidemic.
Now, Securus Technologies has developed a system that is capable of blocking all illegal calls placed within a prison. Known as the Wireless Containment System, the device is able to intercept 100 percent of unauthorized cellular communications, putting an end to the scourge of contraband phones.